Canada and the United States may be close neighbors, but there are many differences between the two countries. Language barriers and geography might be the first things that pop into your mind.
But there’s a discrepancy that’s even more important: sexual assault rates.
In Canada, you’re less than half as likely to be sexually assaulted or raped as you are in the U.S. That’s a significant difference that can’t be ignored.
In 2015, for instance, the U.S. reported 431,840 reports of sexual assault or rape. Canada, in contrast, had a record of 22,000. Yes, the population in Canada is ten times lower than the U.S., but magnifying the record to adjust, there would still be only 222,000 instances.
So what’s going on in the two countries that makes such a distinct difference?
Experts suggest that Canada’ lower sexual assault rate is because of the tight-knit culture and structure of rules. The country operates much differently than the U.S. does on important matters, from gun control to sex education. Community is the focal point, not individualism.
However, another reason could be nuances in the penalties for assault. In the United States, sexual assault is described as sexual contact or behavior of any kind that happens without recipient consent. The consent must be explicit, not “understood.”
In this category, things like sex, sodomy, fondling, molestation, and attempted acts of rape are included.
Canada’s definition is also broad. Per the Canadian Criminal Code, any unwanted sexual activity, including kissing or grabbing, is an assault. Sexual behavior and activity are only legal if both parties have consented to it.
The person must have communicated their consent verbally or with actions. Remaining passive or silent doesn’t count.
These definitions are similar, but the penalties are not. The maximum sentence for sexual assault in the U.S. is 20 years in prison, plus fines and victim compensation. In Canada, the maximum penalty is life in jail. In Canada, the maximum penalty is life in jail.
Victims of sexual assault have mental and physical trauma to overcome. When they seek justice, they should be able to find it.
Sexual assaults in Canada are less prominently reported than they are in the U.S. That doesn’t mean they’re not happening as often. In both countries, many instances of assault are never reported.
As horrible as it is to be the victim of an assault, some statistics are also due to false reporting. Out of revenge, retaliation, or other reasons, some people file sexual assault charges that aren’t accurate or true. By the time the truth comes out, the damage is done to the person’s reputation accused of the assault.
When you’ve been charged with sexual assault, that accusation comes with serious consequences. You may be innocent, but the allegations have put a stigma on you that is hard to shake off.
Hire an experienced sex crime attorney to help you. The details are crucial in sexual assault cases, and your lawyer knows how to look for them. Each one matters since it can be the difference between whether you’re charged with a misdemeanor or a felony.
One small detail can be all it takes to get the charges dropped or send you to prison. It’s a chance you don’t want to take, whether you’re in the U.S. or Canada.